Thought for the Day by Janet Lindley from All Hallows’:
“Lead us on”
Today’s readings each talk about power struggles.
In Samuel, the struggle is about who will be king after Saul’s death between his natural heir and David. It ends with divided nations – some of the tribes of Israel take Saul’s son as king, but the tribe of Judah are loyal to David.
In Acts we hear of the apostles brought before the high priest and the Sanhedrin (a panel of judges) after a night in jail. Why? For proclaiming the good news of Jesus and questioning the validity of Jesus execution. The apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit, were witnessing just as Jesus said to in Acts 1:8. The ensuing uproar was distracting the people from following Jewish customs and disrupting to the normal order. The authorities wanted to stamp this out!
Unusually for the Bible, a detailed account is given of the advice of one of the judges, one of the ‘baddies’, to the rest of the panel. Gamaliel, a senior respected Pharisee, an expert in the law, advises caution – well in fact inaction – it will surely fizzle out like other recent outbursts. Specifically, he says:
“For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:38-39)
This is helpful for us to hear in our churches and wider communities – advice not just for the religious law courts of 2000 years ago. When something new is happening, different to the norm, how do we know whether to back it or challenge it?
When we find ourselves in dispute or disagreement, questioning a decision or unhappy in the face of change, might we be fighting against God’s will and purpose? Can we pause to reflect and questioning our motives? Do we pray for Gods direction and blessing? How do we discern the stirring of the Holy Spirit in our midst?